According to the Center for Disease Control each year, about 1,500 babies are born with Spina Bifida. My Son Prodigy was one of that 1,500. Prodigy was diagnosed with Spina Bifida when I was 6 months pregnant and is partially paralyzed from the waist down. But, despite the doctors original warnings that my son would not live past a couple months and his first birthday. We just celebrated his 4th birthday with family and Prodigy is one of the happiest children I know and many people meet. (at least that’s what I hear all time when were out). What scares me the most is about 75% of women have never heard of Spina Bifida including me and my family when I first became pregnant, so with that said, how can we prevent it.
Spina Bifiba is a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings. The term spina bifida comes from Latin language and means “split” or “open” spine. Spina bifida occurs at the end of the first month of pregnancy when the two sides of the embryo’s spine fail to join together, leaving an open area. In some cases, the spinal cord or other membranes can be pushed through the opening in the back. This often results in damage to the spinal cord and nerves. Spina Bifida is normally detected before a baby is born and treated right away but in some cases can remain undetected until later stages of the pregnancy.
The causes of spina bifida are largely unknown. Many beleifs that genes and the environment, play a role in causing spina bifida need to be studied further. Even still there are ways before and during pregnancy for women to reduce the risk of having a baby with spina bifida. Spina bifida happens in the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant. Although folic acid is not a guarantee that a woman will have a healthy pregnancy, taking folic acid can help reduce a woman’s risk of having a pregnancy affected by spina bifida. Doctors and scientists still aren’t completely sure why folic acid has such a profound effect on the prevention of neural tube defects, but they do know that this vitamin is crucial in the development of the spine and DNA. As a result, folic acid plays a large role in cell growth and development, as well as tissue formation.
There are three common forms of Spina Bifida including: Occulta- the mildest form, Meningocele and Myelomeningocele. Spina bifida can cause physical and mental disabilities that range from mild to severe. The severity depends on both the size and location of the opening in the spine and whether part of the spinal cord and nerves are affected. Not all children born with spina bifida have the same needs and diagnosises, so treatments vary for each person. Some people have problems that are more serious than others and other conditions that come with this birth defect, like hydrocepahlus for example. People with myelomeningocele and meningocele will need more treatments than people with occulta. Some people have little or no noticeable disability. Others are limited in the way they can move or function. They even might be paralyzed (unable to walk or move parts of the body). Even so, with the right care, most people affected by spina bifida will be able to grow up to lead full and productive lives.
When my oldest son ‘Prodigy’ (now 4) was diagnosed with Spina Bifida, I was unaware and confused by his diagnosis. Since then I knew It was only right that I spread the word and contribute to Spina Bifida awareness for my son and the millions of others with this condition. Our children are indeed our future and its up to us as parents to protect and provide them with the best we can!
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All information curtsy of the Center for disease control and Arnold Palmer Spina Bifida Clinic in Orlando,Fl.